Persian poetry rests on a
mythology whose few legends are connected with the Jewish history, and
the anterior traditions of the Pentateuch. The principal figure in the
allusions of Eastern poetry is Solomon. Solomon had three talismans:
first, the signet-ring, by which he commanded the spirits, on the stone
of which was engraven the name of God; second, the glass, in which he
saw the secrets of his enemies, and the causes of all things, figured;
the third, the east-wind, which was his horse. His counsellor was Simorg,
king of birds, the all-wise fowl, who had lived ever since the beginning
of the world, and now lives alone on the highest summit of Mount Kaf.
No fowler has taken him, and none now living has seen him. By him
Solomon was taught the language of birds, so that he heard secrets
whenever he went into his gardens. When Solomon travelled, his throne
was placed on a carpet of green silk, of a length and breadth
sufficient for all his army to stand upon, men placing themselves on
his right hand, and the spirits on his left. When all were in order, the
east-wind, at his command, took up the carpet and transported it, with
all that were upon it, whither he pleased, the army of birds at the same
time flying overhead, and forming a canopy to shade them from the sun.
Hafiz is the prince of Persian poets, and in his extraordinary gifts
adds to some of the attributes of Pindar, Anacreon, Horace, and Burns
the insight of a mystic, that sometimes affords a deeper glance at
Nature than belongs to either of these bards....Hafiz praises
wine, roses, maidens, boys, birds, mornings, and music, to
give vent to his immense hilarity and sympathy with every
form of beauty and joy; and lays the emphasis on these to
mark his scorn of sanctimony and base prudence. These are
the natural topics and language of his wit and perception.
But it is the play of wit and the joy of song that he loves;
and if you mistake him for a low rioter, he turns short on
you with verses which express the poverty of sensual joys,
and to ejaculate with equal fire the most unpalatable
affirmations of heroic sentiment and contempt for the world.
the roses burn!
Bring wine to quench the fire!
Alas! the flames come up with us,
We perish with desire."
"The chemist of love
Will this perishing mould,
Were it made out of mire,
Transmute into gold."
"The bird-soul was ashamed;
Their body was quite annihilated;
They had cleaned themselves from the dust,
And were by the light ensouled.
What was, and was not, -- the Past, --
Was wiped out from their breast.
The sun from near-by beamed
Clearest light into their soul;
The resplendence of the Simorg beamed
As one back from all three.
They knew not, amazed, if they
Were either this or that.
They saw themselves all as Simorg,
Themselves in the eternal Simorg.
When to the Simorg up they looked,
They beheld him among themselves;
And when they looked on each other,
They saw themselves in the Simorg.
A single look grouped the two parties,
The Simorg emerged, the Simorg vanished,
This in that, and that in this,
As the world has never heard.
So remained they, sunk in wonder,
Thoughtless in deepest thinking,
And quite unconscious of themselves.
Speechless prayed they to the Highest
To open this secret,
And to unlock Thou and We.
There came an answer without tongue. --
‘The Highest is a sun-mirror;
Who comes to Him sees himself therein,
Sees body and soul, and soul and body;
When you came to the Simorg,
Three therein appeared to you,
And, had fifty of you come,
So had you seen yourselves as many.
Him has none of us yet seen.
Ants see not the Pleiades.
Can the gnat grasp with his teeth
The body of the elephant?
What you see is He not;
What you hear is He not.
The valleys which you traverse,
The actions which you perform,
They lie under our treatment
And among our properties.
You as three birds are amazed,
Impatient, heartless, confused:
Far over you am I raised,
Since I am in act Simorg.
Ye blot out my highest being,
That you may find yourselves on my throne;
Forever ye blot out yourselves,
As shadows in the sun. Farewell!"'
-- Letters and Social
Aims, by Ralph Waldo Emerson